Thursday, November 19, 2015


Last year, National rammed through a new anti-terror law, giving the Minister of Internal Affairs new temporary powers to cancel passports without notification and for an extended period. We were told this was urgent - so urgent that a select committee couldn't be permitted time to read the submissions on the bill - but was it really?

If the law was urgent, you would have expected those powers to have been used immediately after its passage. So were they? Of course not. Here's the Department of Internal Affairs' statutory declaration on its annual use of passport cancellation powers from its Annual Report:
Note that that's under sections 4A and 8A, not the schedule. The conclusion: these "urgent" powers have not been used. That's good - people's rights have not been abused. And yet it suggests strongly that there was simply no case for urgency, and casts doubt on whether they were ever necessary in the first place. National abused our Parliament and our democracy to pass this law. They told us it was urgent and necessary to prevent imminent terrorist threats. And yet whenever we've checked that claim - on emergency warrantless surveillance, on whether DIA had ever had trouble extending a passport revocation in the courts, and now on urgent passport cancellation, we find that it was not necessary and that new powers have not been used. The obvious conclusion: the whole law was not justified, but was simply a power grab by the SIS to increase their budget and shift the status quo ahead of a statutory review which might have been unwilling to grant new powers (but would be less willing to remove existing ones). And National let themselves be played like a fiddle. The other obvious conclusion: it should be repealed.